This is an attempt to provide an objective comparison of MailEnable, Microsoft Exchange and vendors who position themselves as an 'Exchange Replacement' or 'Exchange Alternative'.
From a functionality perspective, Microsoft Exchange is exhaustive and in a class of its own. Quite simply, anyone who claims to compete as a functional replacement is kidding themselves - and their prospective customers.
MailEnable's solution provides the primary functionality which any business requires, including scheduling of appointments and meeting invitations, with free and busy status, as well as support for sharing and collaboration (see the description of Enterprise Premium for details). It achieves the highest level of Outlook Interoperability without actually requiring Exchange.
Some vendors present products with "Outlook integration" that are implemented as synchronisation add-ins. In reality, such approaches represent nothing like an Exchange experience, and not even anything like what is available in MailEnable Premium. A synchronisation add-in will periodically update an Outlook client with any server changes to items such as calendars and contacts. The kind of integration supported by both MailEnable and Exchange goes well beyond this, with real-time updates in both directions. Many other features are not supported by a synchronisation add-in either, including free and busy status, collaboration and delegation, global address list access, and public folders, all of which are available in MailEnable Premium.
Unfortunately for Exchange, it has established a reputation of being difficult to deploy, configure and maintain, perhaps as a result of the scope of features that it provides. As the product has grown, so too has the complexity of its implantation. There is no doubt that newer versions have improved this; but to some degree it is haunted by its past.
MailEnable by comparison, is much simpler to install and maintain, and only requires a rudimentary understanding of DNS and basic TCP/IP networking. A novice administrator is able to manage all the routine tasks required of an enterprise-grade mail server, with only a recommendation for reading the "Quick Start Guide for MailEnable".
Exchange is licensed under a per-seat (client access license) model. For larger organizations, the cost of providing Exchange becomes considerable. In particular, the per-seat licensing model has significantly inhibited the adoption of Exchange by ISPs and hosting providers.
This is the most significant differentiator between MailEnable and other vendors. MailEnable is licensed eternally for a very small one-time payment. No other vendor offering equivalent Exchange-like Outlook integration has such a license.
As a comparison, consider a mail service hosting provider targeting small businesses, and wishing to provide corporate style Outlook integration functionality for five small businesses, each with twenty employees. Exchange in this scenario, would cost $5500 annually as well as the initial flat server price of $550. As these businesses, and the hosting service itself, grow, the yearly license costs also increase. Suppose the hosting service expands to 10 businesses, each with thirty employees. At that point, the Exchange fees exceed sixteen thousand dollars each year. The same mail service hosting provider if they chose MailEnable Premium would have paid $1098 once and nothing more as their business grows.
The following table compares the total costs of Exchange and MailEnable Premium over a three year period for various numbers of mailboxes.